- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

DENVER (AP) - The Colorado Front Range got failing grades on ozone pollution, and Western Slope counties didn’t do much better, an annual report card on air quality said Wednesday.

The Front Range got all Fs from Colorado Springs through Greeley and Fort Collins, the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2016 report said.

Eight counties on the Western Slope did a little better in the report, with grades ranging from B to F, but the state’s top air quality official took issue with some of those findings.

All of the state’s western counties meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard for ozone, said Will Allison, director of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division.

Allison said the American Lung Association measures ozone differently than the state and federal governments. “We don’t necessarily agree with the methodology they use,” he said.

The Denver metro area was the eighth-worst city in the nation for ozone in the association’s rankings. Los Angeles was the worst, the report said.

Eight counties in the Denver area exceed the EPA’s current ozone standard but are projected to meet it by next year, Allison said.

But new, lower EPA standards expected to begin taking effect in 2020 will be tougher for Colorado and other Western states to meet because they have higher background levels of ozone they can’t control, he said.

The American Lung Association rated only 17 of Colorado’s 64 counties on ozone. It said data was incomplete or unavailable for the others.

A dozen counties rated an F: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Garfield, Jefferson, Larimer, Mesa, Rio Blanco and Weld.

Jackson, Moffat and Montezuma rated a B, Gunnison a C and La Plata a D.

The report had no data for Broomfield County, but Allison said it’s one of the eight in the metro area that exceed EPA standards.

Colorado fared better on particulate pollution. The American Lung Association gave 13 counties an A, B or C but gave Denver a D. The other counties weren’t graded.

Arapahoe, El Paso, Pueblo, Garfield, La Plata and Montezuma counties got an A. Adams, Douglas, Larimer and Rio Blanco got a B while Boulder, Mesa and Weld got a C. Denver got a D.

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American Lung Association report card: https://tinyurl.com/jtjofwj

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This story has been corrected to show the American Lung Association rated 17 Colorado counties for ozone, not 18.

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Follow Dan Elliott at https://twitter.com/DanElliottAP. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/dan-elliott.

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